With all the really big money numbers out there — Exhibit A: $1.6 trillion in derivatives in the AIG portfolio — sometimes we don’t focus enough on the small money numbers. No, I don’t mean the $165 million in AIG bonuses or the $50 million in bonus money that AIG executives so far have agreed to return.
I’m talking about the Vermont quarter. As part of the U.S. Mint’s new America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Program, the image on our quarter is going to change. Just for the record, I wish I could say that I made up America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Program, but no one but a seasoned bureaucrat could come up with poetry like that.
In any case, the current profile of a sugarmaker, maple trees and sap buckets is going to be replaced by an image of the Green Mountain’s portion of the Appalachian Trail. And while I certainly appreciate hiking in Vermont, I wish the U.S. Mint had spoken to some of my friends before deciding that the new quarter had to focus on a national park. The following are what some other Vermonters would place on a quarter if it were up to them.
• “I would put a picture of me deep in a cell phone conversation saying, ‘Are you there? Can you hear me? Not again.'” Christina Weakland, education director for the Flynn Center.
• “The Vermont State Insect: The Honeybee.” Scott Wilson, Heavenly Honey Apiary, Monkton.
• “The Jeezum Crow.” Jenn Foster, Colchester mom and Official Baby Emma Diaper Changer.
• “With thanks to the pundits who insist that Vermont’s economy is like a three-legged stool — agriculture, industry and tourism — I might suggest a three-legged stool with two of the legs broken off lying in the breakdown lane of the incomplete Bennington Bypass.” Will Sipsey, emeritus Lincoln selectperson.
• “Ben and Jerry.” Tracy Stolese, owner of Arabesque in Shelburne.
• “Mountains and a moose.” Nancy Stearns Bercaw, assistant to the dean of libraries at the University of Vermont.
• “Serious response? A pair of open, outstretched hands to represent the generosity, open-mindedness and compassion of Vermonters. Joke answer? A fish with a lamprey stuck to it.” Mark Redmond, executive director, Spectrum Youth and Family Services.
• “A Subaru.” Paul Magoon, autism interventionist, South Burlington School District.
• “A catamount.” Vivian Jordan, founder of Call of the Wild Dog Biscuits and an illness imitator for UVM medical students.
• “The uniquely Vermont institution of the opera house or town hall theater. It’s certainly my favorite thing about this state.” Jeffrey Fox, founding director of the Little City Players in Vergennes and a mighty accomplished home pizza baker.
• “How about Isle LaMotte’s ‘Oldest Reef?'” Martha Jo Walton, Isle LaMotte Preservation Trust activist.
• “A snowflake, comme Monsieur Bentley.” Denise Fitzgerald Danyow, trustee, Charlotte Town Library.
• “The Richmond Round Church.” Richard Parker, Director of Engineering and IT, Vermont Public Radio
• “The Barre granite quarries and sculptures.” Wendy Whaples Scully, administrative assistant, First Congregational Church of Burlington.
• Finally, there were also many suggestions involving woodchucks, including one very eloquent proposal from Michael Boucher, an IT specialist with a subsidiary of Blue Cross/Blue Shield: “‘Woodchuck’ has been used as a pejorative to describe Vermonters, much like the term ‘Red Neck’ is used for Southerners. As a native myself, I’ve come to embrace it. Woodchucks are also ubiquitous in Vermont. I think it should be the state animal. Let’s be honest, when was the last time you saw a Morgan horse?” There were also votes for cows, barns and barn cats. (My wife lobbied with great eloquence for the barn cat.)
• But my absolute favorite might have been Andrea Wolga Freeman’s idea. Wolga Freeman, an engineer with Bio-Rad Laboratories, really put it all together: “Can it be caked in mud? How about a cow ankle deep in mud with a sap bucket around its neck, a Ben and Jerry’s bucket under its udder, a little fall foliage, snowflakes coming down, and a tourist driving SLOWLY taking photos.”
Now there’s an image that gives us our money’s worth.
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on March 29, 2009.)